(Health Secrets) Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for over 100 years. While thought of by some as a type of mushroom, kombucha is really a combination of friendly yeast and bacteria. Although anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of kombucha abounds, little formal research has been done, probably because kombucha is completely natural and no aspect of it is patentable. This article will explore kombucha tea including its history, composition, effects and preparation.
Discovered in Russia in the late 19th century, kombucha was called tea mushroom or tea kvass. Called hongchajun in China and kocha kinoko in Japan, kombucha contains multiple species of bacteria and yeast along with enzymes, polyphenols, glucuronic acid and other organic acids. Kombucha also contains B-vitamins and trace amounts of alcohol. Proponents suggest kombucha can treat and prevent cancer, especially in the breast, prostate and ovaries, increase energy, sharpen eyesight, aid joint recovery and digestion, and improve skin elasticity. Kombucha has low toxicity, however if it is not made under very cleanly conditions it may become contaminated and/or cause allergic reactions. Kombucha has adaptogenic, antioxidant, probiotic and hepato- (liver) protective properties.
The types of yeast found in kombucha can be Saccaromyces cerevisiae, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, or others.
One of the components of kombuch tea, glucuronic acid, is also found in fruits and vegetables and is independently being explored as a cancer preventive agent. Because kombucha is a probiotic tea it helps populate the large intestine with friendly bacteria. These dissolve harmful micro-organisms and cholesterol which may explain the detoxifying properties that many associate with kombucha after daily consumption for several weeks. Dramatic health improvements have been observed in some people after a year of use. The effects of drinking kombucha may vary from person to person. The adaptogenic quality of kombucha helps to restore balance in the body.
Preparation of Kombucha Tea
Black tea or green tea is mixed with water and sugar and placed in a container along with a kombucha culture (often called the mother or daughter). The container is usually covered with a cloth to prevent dust, mold and other bacterial contamination while allowing the mixture to breathe. After one or two weeks, most of the liquid is tapped and consumed. If more water is added the process can be continued indefinitely. Left alone kombucha will become very acidic and will form SCOBY (which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) That is a pancake-like cluster of mold that floats near the surface.
Bottled kombucha tea is available in real health food stores, and stores that market to the health conscious, such as Whole Foods Markets. Look for it in the refrigerated section, where it is usually available in several flavors. It has an effervescent quality and is quite tasty. If you are just starting out with kombucha tea, drink only a third of the bottle each day for the first few days and slowly work up to consuming a full bottle. Many people’s intestinal tracts are so depleted of the friendly bacteria and yeast that should reside there for good health, that a few days of adjustment are required.
For more information:
Kombucha Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha
Kombucha study on rats: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11723720
Gaia Organic Kombucha: http://www.gokombucha.com/health_benefits.html